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Old 12-05-2012, 12:32 AM   #1
laughatmyvanagon111 OP
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Gear Review: First-Gear Kilimanjaro Jacket

FIRST-GEAR KILIMANJARO JACKET


SO, A LITTLE HISTORY:


Ok, so I've been riding without the proper gear this past fall and winter due to my old gear not fitting properly. I still want to ride and need to get around so I've been riding with about 5 layers anytime I pull the bike out. "Anytime" being daily.

So usually my upper torso is layered as such starting from the outer most layer: A thin rain jacket, a heavy sweatshirt, a long sleeve shirt, another long sleeve long underwear type shirt and a t-shirt. As you can imagine whenever I go anywhere requiring me to gear down or gear up it takes a while and I feel "puffy". At the gym my gear requires the big boy locker to fit everything including my $20 ugly Bilt boots and bookbag. When it pours or I"m stuck riding out in just light rain for too long eventually my light rain jacket gets soaked through and I start to actually feel the wetness on my arms and chest. But this is the price I've had to pay this past fall and winter to ride.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago...


THE SWEEPSTAKES:

I received an email stating that I won a First-Gear Kilimanjaro Jacket. I enter contests all the time but never win anything. Finally I won something I can use. The First-Gear representative asked me to select a size and a color and get back to her. I immediately Googled sizing for the Kilimanjaro jacket, took my measurements and contemplated on which color to get. The choices were black, grey and a bright yellow. Grey was out simply because I thought it would get dirty too quick riding around in the wet with crap kicking up on me. It was down to neon yellow or black. For a minute I considered the neon yellow, not as a fashion statement of any type but simply considering safety. After you have been rear ended on your bike a couple of times, due to no fault of your own, you start considering what will make you not repeat these incidents. My sometimes achy back was screaming neon yellow but my fashion sense and consideration of what I would like in the long run screamed black. So black it was. I emailed her back and my jacket arrived today via a big brown truck.


GEAR COMPARISON:

So, if my normal gear was to fit me, I have worn an Icon Motorhead jacket with a sweatshirt and t-shirt underneath, at least in the winter. I've tried to do my own waterproofing of the jacket with limited success. It keeps me dry in heavy rain to a certain point and then I start to feel the wetness a little in my sleeves and in my underarms. Under the worst conditions I throw a crinkly, stiff Motogear rain jacket on top of it but the whole set up is pretty uncomfortable leaving me feeling kind of stiff and all puffy. Not the best setup although it pretty much worked. I've also worn a Frank Thomas leather (more track oriented if anything) and a textile Joe Rocket jacket. Neither one touches the Kilimanjaro, but more on that in a minute. For heavy rain I wear some Joe Rocket waterproof textile pants that work great (get a little too warm) but that's another story.


FIRST RIDE TODAY:
So I received the new Kilimanjaro jacket today.

To be honest, it doesn't look like normal sportbike apparel but when it comes to the crap conditions out here in the winter I'll take the notion of comfort over style anyday. I actually like the look of it. It's a handsome jacket.

Today I threw the jacket on and left the gym with only a t-shirt on underneath. My gym locker thanked me since there was a lot more room with only the jacket and not all the usual layers. I started out on I-5 continuing to Hwy 16 in heavy traffic and in a total downpour. It was not the usual Pac NW drizzle or light rain but a real was a coming down today. It was a total downpour and traffic was miserable. I had a chance to really get a feel for the jacket under the worst conditions and it performed flawlessly. I was warm. I was comfortable. And, most importantly, I was dry! My cellphone stayed dry in the little inside cell pocket and everything in the roomy exterior pockets stayed bone dry.


THE MEAT AND POTATOES:

So, here is what I love about this jacket...

- 100% waterproof.
That is the claim and what I have found to be true so far. The material is textile Hypertex waterproof and breathable.

- Warm.
It has a removable interior zipped liner. I kept it in and I was warm as can be with just a t-shirt on underneath. Temps weren't that low today but for what it was I was more than warm enough.

- Comfortable.
The jacket feels pretty heavy picking it up but when I was wearing it it didn't feel heavy or burdensome. It's cut in, what I guess you would call, an adventure rider style cut.

- Adjustable waist, arms and neck.
Now check it out, not only is it cinchable at the waist, but the arms can be cinched near the bicep and again about 6 inches up from the cuff. Two separate adjustments for the arms alone. Believe me, it helps when it comes to comfort. The neck is adjustable as well but, get this, the neck adjustment is not velcro. It's sort of a sliding male snap that slides in its own slot. It locks into place so no scratch velcro to bother ya neck. Very clever design and well thought out. And, an added bonus, the collar is of a soft material on the inside so you don't have to have a scratchy back or front of the neck either. It was very comfortable overall.

- Tons of storage room pockets.
There's the usual roomy pockets in the front, typical of this style of jacket. Keeps everything completely dry. Zipped and velcroed closed. What I liked about the pocket design was the little inside cellphone specific pocket on the inside of the liner and again on the inside of the jacket itself. Two separate cellphone specific pockets.

- Design
So, this isn't your typical sportbike jacket. Well, riding in the rain and winter slop isn't typical for sportbikes anyway so who cares. Personally I think the jacket is handsome and pretty cool looking. It was designed so it is longer in the back, about 6 inches or so. I'm guessing this helps cover you when you got your lean going and don't want water dripping down your lower back. Covers the rain pants and there are no gaps. Perfect.

- Reflective qualities.
I've been rearended on my bikes twice in the past few years, at no fault of mine. Blame driver inattention due to cell phone. Both times I was rearended it was in wet and conditions of poor visability. When it comes to safety in the wet, in the dark, etc. for me there is no substitute for being seen out there by the cagers. This jacket has reflective material going across the back horizontally, across both upper arms near the shoulders horizontally and across the front near the shoulders horizontally. All the reflective strips are grey and work excellent in their reflective qualities. The location of the strips is well thought out. Think about it. If you're on your bike and leaning forward, if the reflective strips were any lower they would be partially blocked due to leaning forward. Being as these are placed so high on the jacket you have a better chance of being seen. They are large enough to do their job but not so overbearing as to look gaudy or unsightly. They are about 1" wide. Perfect as far as I'm concerned. When it comes to avoid being another motorcyclist casualty, this is pretty important.

- Armor.
The armor is D30 protective armor. It is in the elbows, back and shoulders. It feels, in the fit of the jacket, to be lighter and more confortable than the armor I have had in my Joe Rocket jacket, Icon or Frank Thomas jackets. According to the literature on the armor that I received with the jacket, it is thinner than typical armor but works better. It works through a system of shock absorbtion and transmitted force. I haven't had a chance to test it out but it sounds like it will work well. According to the manufacturer is it "type-examined and issued with EC...certification from SATRA Technology of England. It is CE aproved and tested down to -20 Celcius". Tested to European standards.

- Ventilation
The jacket has plenty of ventilation although I didn't get a chance to try this out. It has vertical zippered back vents and zippered venting along the front at a 45 degree angle near the upper chest. I read that this was redesigned on the front to provide better ventilation in this format as opposed to the typical vertical zips that usually reside along the front of similar type jackets. It is claimed to have better ventilation, moving the zippered vents up higher near the chest in this type angle as opposed to the other styles of ventilation. Makes sense.

SUMMARY:

From what I can tell so far, I can see keeping this jacket for years to come. It's a 3 season jacket so it may sit a little during the warmest summer months but here in Washington I can probably get away with about 11 months of use.

I can say this jacket was well thought out. According to the information I found it was designed by riders, for riders and this really comes through in its design. Someone at First-Gear put a lot of thought into this jacket down to the little separate cellphone pockets, down to the comfy material in the neck, the waterproof design and waterproof storage, the adjustable fit and even down to a little hood that rolls up neatly stored inside the exterior collar of the neck. Maybe it's been a while since I've had some new gear but this jacket is excellent. It wasn't just throw together and marketed. I can see using it not only on my GSXR but on my dualsport out in the woods or as a long-distance touring jacket on an FJR. If I had to pick a jacket for a cross county jaunt to see the folks, this is the one I would choose. No doubt.

Kudos to First-Gear for a great jacket. I look forward to all the time I will spend inside it.
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Old 12-05-2012, 01:53 AM   #2
Dcc46
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Great review , and congrats on the win.
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Old 12-05-2012, 07:21 AM   #3
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Does your jacket really have a d30 back pad?
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Old 12-05-2012, 09:26 AM   #4
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Congratulations on winning. Great write-up!
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Old 12-05-2012, 03:34 PM   #5
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I bought a used first generation Kili jacket about 6 years ago. Never leaked until last year. I've washed it with Nikwax but have yet to test it to see if it's still waterproof. I have several other "waterproof" jackets but they rely on a waterproof liner. If I wear one of them to work during a downpour and stop at a mini-mart I leave a trail of dripping water like a sponge that is soaked to capacity. Doesn't happen with a Kili. Outer shell is the waterproof barrier. If the Nikwax treatment doesn't work I'll buy another Kili jacket.
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Old 12-05-2012, 04:20 PM   #6
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Great write up! I've been looking for the perfect adventure touring jacket (within my price range) and I've had my eye on the kili. Good to hear some opinions from somebody other than the websites trying to sell them.
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Old 12-05-2012, 05:38 PM   #7
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I really like mine to and I got the baby puke green jacket. Looks good and fits nice. Oh... and should you have any issue with the jacket FG customer service is outstanding.
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Old 12-05-2012, 08:09 PM   #8
laughatmyvanagon111 OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucas123 View Post
Does your jacket really have a d30 back pad?
I pulled out the back protector. I don't know if that armor is actually D30 but I would guess it is not. It is super thin, perforated and light. I checked the armor in the shoulders and that armor is bright orange and is stamped D30 along with some other writing. So, I'm thinking the back protector is not. Due to your question, I"m kind of curious as to why the back protector is not D30 armor and the rest is. I'm also curious if it can be upgraded to it. Good question though.


Rode with it again today, got caught in another miserable downpour near Tacoma and stayed dry and warm. Temps were around 40 air temp.

When you ride every single day in poor weather you appreciate the more subtle touches. I was incorrect about the arm adjustments, there's not 2 but 3 different adjustments. I missed the other adjustment at the cuff.

laughatmyvanagon111 screwed with this post 12-05-2012 at 10:22 PM Reason: I was wrong...
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Old 12-05-2012, 09:52 PM   #9
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Congrats on the win! I've only had mine for a couple weeks now and thus far really like it. Rode last Saturday in the Portland Toy Run and then off to the Columbia River for some sailing classes .By the time I was done the rain was coming down by the buckets. Rode about 15 miles home and was bone dry on the upper half and completely soaked from below the Killman. Took two days for my boots to dry out. Hope you enjoy it. By the way this was a Great review, are you sure you don't work for First Gear?
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Old 12-05-2012, 10:18 PM   #10
laughatmyvanagon111 OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ventureman View Post
Congrats on the win! I've only had mine for a couple weeks now and thus far really like it. Rode last Saturday in the Portland Toy Run and then off to the Columbia River for some sailing classes .By the time I was done the rain was coming down by the buckets. Rode about 15 miles home and was bone dry on the upper half and completely soaked from below the Killman. Took two days for my boots to dry out. Hope you enjoy it. By the way this was a Great review, are you sure you don't work for First Gear?
Lol, no I don't work for First-Gear but hey if you know anyone in their HR dept. and they're hiring I'm in.

I just like to give kudos to decent gear and equipment. I don't have much money and I appreciate anything that functions well. There's nothing like getting stuck out there with substandard equipment.
Since I've been riding somewhat squid this past fall and winter my little Old Navy thin rainjacket has only kept me dry in the lightest of drizzle. However when it pours I hate that feeling of my clothes soaking and the wetness against my skin. I've felt it way too many times this winter before winning this jacket. I do have a Motoboss rainjacket that I know keeps me dry but it's just too damn crinkly, it fits kind of weird and it looks atrocious.

The only thing I dont really like about the Kilimanjaro (and this is a very petty complaint but in the spirit of playing both sides) is the liner seems to want to pull out with my arms when I take off the jacket. It's fixed by me holding the liner in place with my other hand. See? A very petty complaint. Otherwise this jacket is awesome.

Now, if I really wanted to complain I could probably complain about my new Bilt riding boots that are ugly enough to seem like they should be waterproof but allow tons of water in through the tongue. But for $20 on sale at CycleGear I wouldn't bother to complain. And they're steel tipped.
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Old 12-06-2012, 03:31 AM   #11
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What kinda zippers does it have?

I'd bet you that the zippers will fail in one way or another in the next year. Maybe in the next week.

The only real shortcoming in the Firstgear line from what I've experienced...
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Old 12-06-2012, 03:50 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laughatmyvanagon111 View Post
...The only thing I dont really like about the Kilimanjaro (and this is a very petty complaint but in the spirit of playing both sides) is the liner seems to want to pull out with my arms when I take off the jacket. It's fixed by me holding the liner in place with my other hand. See? A very petty complaint....
Not sure of the newest generation Kili, but both my original 1999 and my kili 4.0 (2007) have snap straps inside the sleeves that go thru "straps" on the outside of the sleeves of the liner that hold the liner in place.
Take a look.


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Old 12-06-2012, 06:57 AM   #13
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Also of note with this jacket is that the d30 armor is pre-shaped, and thick.

It is different from the flat, thin "mouse pad" d30 armor found in the more expensive TPG jackets.

I would expect next year's TPG line to have this new armor, as well.
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Old 12-06-2012, 07:13 AM   #14
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Have a 1st generation Kili with probably 100k miles on it. Looks pretty rough but is still going strong though not as waterproof as it once was. Sprung for a 2nd generation jacket (I believe the OP won a 3rd generation) that I found on sale a couple of years ago and was very disappointed how the quality had gone down between the two. That being said, it does remain a pretty good jacket. Had sworn off further Kili's owing to my findings but with the OP's description I'll give em another look.
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Old 12-06-2012, 12:54 PM   #15
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Edit: spoken for. Thanks!

I've got an XL or XXL Kili jacket that's too big for me and far from new (came with my last bike when my buddy got out of riding).

Anybody want it? I'm 6 feet and 220 lbs, and it's all around too big- if you're 6'3" or so and maybe 240+ it should fit. PM me.


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